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20.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Dearth of Magistrates a problem to judiciary-Minister

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Accra, July 20, GNA - Mr Ayikoi Otto, Minister of Justice, on Wednesday said due to poor conditions of service, the Judicial Service had been unable to attract personnel, especially professional lawyers, at the lower echelons of the Bench.

He said as a result of this, there had been a dearth of Magistrates all over the country.

The Minister said out of 127 District Magistrate's Courts there were only 61 District Magistrates currently at post.

"This number does not include the newly created districts," the Minister told Parliament in response to a question on when a permanent judge would be appointed to preside over the Asesewa District Court, which has been without a judge for the past year.

Mr Otto said: "To solve the problem of acute shortage of Magistrates, the Judicial Council, two years ago approved the training of career Magistrates."

He said these laymen would be trained over a two-year period and thereafter posted to man various Magistrates' Courts. "These Magistrates would have career progression by being promoted to senior Magistrates and ultimately to Chief Magistrates but never to the Superior Court Bench," the Minister said.

He said the first batch of 32 Trainee Career Magistrates would pass out in August and they would then be posted to man some of the vacant District Magistrate's courts.

He said Chief Justice had that Mr S. K. B. Alomatu, Circuit Court Judge at Odumase should sit at the Asesewa District Magistrate's Court as an additional District Magistrate until a substantive career Magistrate was posted there. 20 July 05